EU relaxes Protocol for supplying Northern Ireland stores

The European Union and the United Kingdom have agreed to relax customs and transport rules for food and agricultural products from England to the British Overseas Territory of Northern Ireland.

This will speed up the passage of more typically British foodstuffs through UK and EU customs and improve store stocking. It has been faltering since the British left the EU with their Brexit.

Because both Great Britain and EU member state Ireland wanted to avoid a new 'hard' border between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, it was decided after Brexit to place the EU customs border in the Irish Sea, between Ireland and England. But this brought Northern Ireland within European legal territory.

The latter was regarded by fanatically pro-British politicians in Northern Ireland as a reprehensible first step towards London 'letting go' of their overseas territory. And in the British parliament in London, the Tories (the Conservative Party) depend on that pro-British Northern Ireland party for their majority.

Due to the political disagreement about yes or no Brexit or EU, the Northern Irish provincial government (in Stormont) has also been at a standstill for more than a year. The EU was willing to participate in the relaxation of customs rules to Northern Ireland, as long as that did not lead to a new smuggling route or tax evasion.

There will now be special export forms and scan codes for 'English end users' in Northern Ireland. This makes delivering groceries from the UK to Northern Ireland easier. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have now added the Windsor Agreement to the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol on Monday.

Von der Leyen explained that English foodstuffs should not be withheld from consumers in Northern Ireland, but that for deliveries to the EU countries, the EU rules remain mandatory. In practice, border controls on the Irish Sea will be abolished for registered food exports labeled “Northern Ireland Only”.